The climate friendly gift of the coronavirus

If there was any upside to the coronavirus tsunami that engulfed the planet in 2020 for a brief moment as we were forced to shelter from the relentless waves of destruction the noise of vehicles suddenly disappearing off the roads and the roar of airplanes evaporating from the skies provided us with a pleasant albeit transient experience of the relative silence we might enjoy if we commit to a dramatic reduction in man-made carbon emissions in order to salvage the planet.   This year was an inflection point during which the whole of humanity had to turn its back on coal fired energy and embrace alternate forms of energy supply such as solar panels and wind farms so that by 2030 we could achieve 100% renewable energy. 

  As devastating as it’s been to human lives and the world economy the virus might be giving us the unique gift of restructuring to a greener economy.   According to the Paris Climate Accord this was going to be the year that countries submitted new plans to reduce greenhouse gases with a U.N. climate conference planned in Glasgow for November to consolidate this momentum.  This meeting has been deferred for a year.  However as international travel drastically abated and oil hit an all-time low in mid-April investors started to appreciate how patterns might change for the good of the planet and there’s already been a massive thrust to divest from companies who are mired in the old economy and support those who are embracing clean energy.

  Around the globe countries have taken hold of a greener, climate-friendly economy as part of their coronavirus recovery plans and the International Monetary Fund stands ready to financially support those that do.  A number of countries have lined up to pursue the Green New Deal, in Paris and Milan for example key thoroughfares have been shuttered to car traffic and are now designated entirely for bikes,  but the USA and at home Australia have been recalcitrant with little visible evidence in this country that we understand how pivotal it is that we start leaving our vehicles at home.

 Aside from reducing our engagement with transportation which adds to our carbon footprint and relying on governmental initiatives to alter our destructive path we need to find ways to consume, waist and throw away less. Individual action on climate change includes a range of climate-friendly behaviours that each of us can execute to meet the Paris Agreement for the carbon footprint required per person, which currently resides at a level much higher than it needs to be to appreciably reduce planetary warming.

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